How can you be a great leader if your team does not trust you?
Do you worry about whether or not your team trusts you? You should. Many leaders feel that simply being a manager of a team means you are trusted but if your team was given the opportunity to speak candidly, you might hear a different story. Trust isn’t something that comes with a title or a position. It is something that you earn overtime.
I suspect we have all, at one time or another, worked for a manager that we didn’t trust. In fact, I would guess that most of you reading this right now have at least one person above you that you don’t trust. So what is it that makes you trust your leaders?
Here are a few characteristics that I believe are important to earning trust.
Sincerity – Don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Earning trust is not a process of going through the motions. If you are not being sincere in what you say or do then people will notice. If you are pretending to be someone you are not then you will only make them trust you less.
Vulnerability – Open yourself up a little and let them know you are a real person. Hiding behind a wall doesn’t make you a better leader. Your team needs to see that sometimes you don’t have all the answers. Sometimes you have concerns. Sometimes you need help. These are not signs of weakness, these are signs of being human and if your team sees that you need them and are willing to listen to them, they will not only help you succeed but they will learn to trust you when you need to make those tough decisions and they will also stand by you, even when you make mistakes.
Clarity – In everything you ask, be clear. Nothing exacerbates problems more than a lack of clarity. How many times have you been asked to do something without clarity and then when you ask for more information, your boss is condescending toward you? Sure, sometimes you may need someone to figure something out for you but let them know that. Be upfront that you don’t know the right way to do something. Guide them through it. If nothing else, be clear about the ambiguity.
Consistency – How quickly we stop trusting leaders that waver back and forth on an issue. Have you ever had that boss that tells you one thing one day and the opposite the next? Pretty hard to trust them when they are so inconsistent. When you make decisions, commit. If you need to change that decision later, be willing to admit you made a mistake. Don’t pretend like you never made the decision in the first place.
Accountability – Do what you say you are going to do. Take responsibility for your actions. Fix your mistakes. Be willing to apologize. These are all important steps for earning trust. We all make mistakes. We all make bad decisions. It’s what you do after that counts. Are you one that tries to sweep it under the rug or are you one that learns from your mistakes? If you are the latter then you are helping to build trust.
I have had plenty of managers I didn’t trust in my life and I have had a few leaders that I did trust in my life. The big difference is that when a leader you trust calls on you to do something, you actually want to do it. You want to see them succeed and you want to be a part of their success. But a manager you don’t trust…well let’s be honest…most times we would rather see them fail and clear the way for someone you can trust.
Are you a trustworthy leader? If so, what do you do that earns the trust of those that work for you and with you? Please share your thoughts.